‘K9 is your guardian angel’: how Karim Benzema transformed himself and Real Madrid

France ahead has saved his membership in each knockout spherical and will declare his fifth Champions League title in Paris

A smile spreads throughout Rodrygo’s face. Standing by the coaching pitch at Valdebebas, he’s discussing his Actual Madrid teammate Karim Benzema, the four-times European Cup winner 13 years his senior who “always talks to me before games” and “helps us a lot, on and off the pitch”, somebody “I always try to listen to”, when he’s requested: So what’s the very best recommendation he has ever given you? The reply is fast. “To play the ball to him,” Rodrygo replies. There may be laughter, however it’s sound recommendation. “Every time I give him the ball, it works out,” he says.

Within the 96th minute of the semi-final against Manchester City, Rodrygo performed the ball for Benzema, delivering the cross from which Actual Madrid obtained the penalty that might put them within the Champions League last and safe one other absurd comeback. The Brazilian had scored two in a minute to take them to further time and Benzema supplied him the penalty to finish his hat-trick. “No, you have to take it, Karim,” Rodrygo replied. “Well, of course: after the season he’s been having …” he mentioned afterwards.

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